Of Course Abortion Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats
August 2, 2017 11:47 AM   Subscribe

 
Amen. I don't want evangelical votes. I want to fight them everywhere and always.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:50 AM on August 2 [30 favorites]


Somehow the Republicans can fight for unpopular positions, like against health care (and are actually trying to attack Medicaid) and not get hurt.

It's time Democrats went all in. Single-payer. Free education. Green energy.

Going to the middle hasn't helped. Let's actually stand or sink on our principles. At least one party should try to have principles.
posted by maxsparber at 11:55 AM on August 2 [124 favorites]


[Programming note: There's been a lengthy discussion of this article today in the current catch-all thread, and now I'm asking people to bring that discussion over here.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:59 AM on August 2 [4 favorites]


But to be anti-choice on a policy level is absolutely indefensible from an economic justice, racial justice, gender justice and human rights standpoint. And if the Democratic Party does not stand for any of those things, then what on earth is it?

Not trying to be glib, but uh, what it's always been? The half of the bourgeois white supremacist power structure that focuses on the ruling class' long-term stability rather than short-term gains (the latter being the Republicans' bailiwick)?

Thinking the Democrats stand for "justice" for marginalized groups is as delusional as thinking the Republicans stand for "freedom". How has the 2016 election left anyone in the US thinking otherwise?
posted by Krawczak at 12:00 PM on August 2 [25 favorites]


and like it's not even a matter of principles — in this case, standing on principles is the clearly correct tactical move. To quote the (brilliant) article:
Abortion is normal. Abortion is common, necessary and happening every day across party lines, economic lines and religious lines. Abortion is also legal and, contrary to what the pundit economy would have you believe, not particularly controversial. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 70 percent of all Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, while 75 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. These are not numbers that indicate controversy. [...] What contortionist of logic came up with the proposal that alienating 75 percent of one’s constituents, and declaring half to not deserve control over their bodies, can strengthen a party’s numbers? This is not broadening our coalition; it’s flagrantly shrinking it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:01 PM on August 2 [65 favorites]


I'm sorry, it's such a trigger for me I can barely refrain from shouting.

God fucking dammit, Democrats. If you lose women, you lose the war. Do not test us on this one.
posted by lydhre at 12:02 PM on August 2 [63 favorites]


> Thinking the Democrats stand for "justice" for marginalized groups is as delusional as thinking the Republicans stand for "freedom". How has the 2016 election left anyone in the US thinking otherwise?

Because we think that it's possible to hijack the Democratic Party and turn it into something worthwhile. It's less that anyone thinks that the Democrats stand for "justice," and more that some people think that it's possible for people who stand for justice to instrumentalize the Democratic Party in the service of justice.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:03 PM on August 2 [29 favorites]


The half of the bourgeois white supremacist power structure that focuses on the ruling class' long-term stability

This is why an intersectional left must be given the opportunity to reclaim the party in whole or replace it with their own. We will never get where we need to be as long as there is any compromise with the systems of our collective undoing.
posted by an animate objects at 12:03 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


in this case, standing on principles is the clearly correct tactical move.

That's a tactical argument and not a moral one. I'm completely open to tactical critiques of supporting red state Democrats.
posted by Justinian at 12:03 PM on August 2


To repeat what I said in the other thread, Democratic politicians and their surrogates and supporters should be vocal about how the pro-choice is the moral position -- too long has the perceived morality been conceded to the so-called "pro-life" side, to the point that the so-called "liberal media" seems to take it for granted! -- and that the desire to punish women for having sex, and worse yet punishing children for whatever the perceived sins of the parents might be -- by any means -- is deeply, deeply immoral.

A script a politician that has to speak to pro-life constituents could follow might be: "The topic of abortion may make me uncomfortable, but voting to interfere in lifesaving health care for women is a wrong I can't condone."

It's long past time for Democrats to emerge from the defensive crouch their losses to Reagan and George W. Bush seems to have put them in -- the policies of Republican presidents have been, by and large, disastrous, and Democrats should not apologize for being in the right, let alone tacitly concede that the Republican side is.
posted by Gelatin at 12:07 PM on August 2 [61 favorites]


Going to repost my letter from the catch-all thread to the DCCC on this topic to make sure those who don't (want to) venture into the politics threads can see/use it:
To the DCCC Leadership:

Representative Luján's recent comments stating that the DCCC will not insist that candidates running as Democrats uphold a woman's freedom to make her own reproductive choices is appalling, disheartening, and political malpractice. While I can accept that a candidate might be personally uncomfortable with abortion, I expect every single Democrat to vote in support of reproductive freedom.

First, I am unequivocally opposed to forcing a person to give birth. Birth is inherently risky, can be traumatic, and no person with a uterus should ever be forced to go through it unless they want to. To be in the so-called "pro-life" movement means to believe that someone should be forced to give birth. There should be ZERO room for people so opposed to reproductive freedom in the Democratic party.

Second, this announcement is incredibly disheartening. [Explain your volunteering or financial contributions to the Democratic Party here]. To see the DCCC espouse a policy that abandons the basic principle of upholding someone's freedom to make the the best medical choice for that person makes me question what else will be up for debate. Will the DCCC require candidates to support access to contraception--that's the other target of the forced-birth movement. [As a [whatever type of person you are--especially if you are part of a marginalized group], I wonder whether the DCCC will abandon me and my rights.]

Finally, this announcement is political malpractice. All the men in the Democratic party who are willing to toss in with the forced-birth movement need to consider this fact: The vast majority of the unpaid labor that runs your campaigns is donated by WOMEN. To abandon one of the most basic freedoms of the people who make your campaigns possible is perhaps the most foolish course of action for the DCCC to take. Why would you as an organization want to alienate your strongest and most valuable supporters? Furthermore, abortion is not a controversial topic. The vast majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade and believe that abortion should be widely available. Voters who believe women should be forced to give birth are already Republicans--they will not vote for Democrats, so it's foolish to waste time trying to court them at the expense of the Democratic base.

In conclusion, this recent announcement that the DCCC will not insist candidates uphold the basic principle of reproductive freedom is immoral, risks alienating the Democratic party's most passionate volunteers and most valuable resource, and is among the most appallingly stupid politics I have ever seen. I hope you all will reconsider before such actions depress turnout and volunteer rates among the most faithful Democratic supporters.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
Please feel free to modify this letter as needed to advance women's reproductive freedom. I have also sent it to my House Representative so he can hopefully pressure the DCCC leadership as well. Women are a major part of the Democratic base and our priorities need to be centered in how the party operates.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 12:07 PM on August 2 [71 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the only Democrat who didn't get a 100% rating from NARAL last year was Joe Donnelly from Indiana. All the other red staters including Manchin, Heitkamp, etc voted in lockstep with their more liberal colleagues. (The Republicans from those same states received 0%).
posted by Justinian at 12:19 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


That includes, FWIW, supposedly moderate Republicans like Murkowski and Collins; 0%.
posted by Justinian at 12:20 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


>> in this case, standing on principles is the clearly correct tactical move.

> That's a tactical argument and not a moral one. I'm completely open to tactical critiques of supporting red state Democrats.


Is there a term that floats between "tactics" and "morals" in a way equivalent to the way that the word "praxis" floats between "practice" and "theory"? Because that's the term we need here.

It's a good tactical argument because it's a good moral argument. The arguments for tactically supporting misogynists are bad because they're rooted in a bad moral argument.

Because Lindy West is basically the smartest writer around, I'm going to introduce a concept from her first NYT article:
A few weeks back, some old friends invited me to appear on their podcast. They are two stand-up comedians in their mid-30s — I know, the podcast comes as a shock — and their show is a kind of micro focus group, investigating how to be better straight white dudes by picking the brains of guests who don’t fit that description.

They want to know what people like me, for instance (fat, female, feminist) need from people like them (plausible extras in a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial). It’s sweet and, I think, encouraging.

“How to build a better white guy” is a conversation that could turn academic fast, replete with all the jargon that the sneering class finds so tedious: intersectionality, emotional labor, systemic oppression, the dreaded “privilege.” But when I sat down with my friends, only one question sprang to mind, and it was personal, not pedantic.

“Do you ever stick up for me?”
When you don't — publicly! — stick up for the people who your party purports to represent, they aren't going to stick up for you, either. If you publicly, enthusiastically support misogynist candidates, you are not publicly sticking up for women.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:20 PM on August 2 [81 favorites]


Oops, sorry, not up to date on the catch-all. Apologies for the duplicate post!
posted by stillmoving at 12:21 PM on August 2


At best I feel the Democrats could say something like:

a. Reproductive freedom is a platform of our party and that is never going to change. Period.

b. However, sometimes the best available Democratic candidate in a given race is personally conflicted about abortion. We will sometimes support a candidate like that rather than let a seat go uncontested, to forward our long-term goal of getting as many Democratic votes as possible in Congress.

c. Should another candidate come along with a better position on reproductive choice, as well as being a secure Democratic vote, then we reserve the right to support them instead.
posted by emjaybee at 12:22 PM on August 2 [36 favorites]


YCTaB: In what way does that argument not preclude supporting Obama in 2008 because of his opposition to gay marriage?

When you don't — publicly! — stick up for the people who your party purports to represent, they aren't going to stand up for you, either.

Because this is exactly what happened; Neither Obama nor Biden publicly stuck up for gay people.
posted by Justinian at 12:24 PM on August 2


(on the subject of marriage equality).
posted by Justinian at 12:25 PM on August 2


David Perry (lollardfish on Twitter) has been tweeting about this:
>re: pro-life Democrats. I argue the Democratic party should commit to bodily autonomy (or even sovereignty).
>Bodily autonomy is key for disability rights, of course (see @smneumeier for @NOSeditorial - http://nosmag.org/disability-rights-must-be-pro-choice/ …)
>but it's a principle that allows many other rights issues to come together, including of course reproductive freedom.
>Bodily autonomy does well for decriminalization, anti-stop and frisk, universal healthcare, LGBTQ rights, and more.
>What I like about it is that it takes YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT STUFF out of the equation. I don't care how you feel about abortion.
>We support bodily autonomy. We support bodily sovereignty (we are not actually autonomous, but you decide what your body does).
posted by Lexica at 12:30 PM on August 2 [23 favorites]


However, sometimes the best available Democratic candidate in a given race is personally conflicted about abortion.

I give less than a wet fart about whether someone is "personally conflicted about abortion", because fucking everyone is personally conflicted about abortion. The idea that anti-forced-birth people are somehow pro-forced-abortion is so stupid that even the penumbra of the idea deserves nothing better than contempt. I'm personally conflicted about admitting to my two-year-old that I'm not really a superhero, but that doesn't mean I want a fucking Constitutional amendment to ban it.

Is the candidate going to vote to deny medical care to women who need it up to and including abortion, which is what the Hyde Amendment and Bart Stupak and so on and so forth really accomplished? Then the candidate can go fuck themself and run on their goddamn own. I don't care how personally conflicted about it they are. Is the candidate going to vote for better birth control availability, for better access to education, for better job opportunities for everyone, and for women in particular, because they're so personally conflicted about abortion that they actually want to decrease the numbers of abortions? Then welcome to the fucking podium, and I promise I won't show you a bunch of pictures of aborted fetuses and laugh about how awesome it is that abortion is legal -- you know, like no one has ever done.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: "Choice" isn't just abortion -- it's women's rights, it's privacy, it's access to medical care, it's funding for medical care, it's birth control, it's sex ed, it's federalism, it's the entire role of government in a "single issue".
posted by Etrigan at 12:33 PM on August 2 [78 favorites]


I submit that even if the Democratic party decided to support a hypothetical anti-abortion, anti choice candidate in, say, Tennessee, where I'm from, it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. Here, the Democratic brand is deeply and throughly identified with baby killers, and the Republicans so deeply identified with Good Christian Values, that it even if a Democratic candidate personally closed the padlock on the last Planned Parenthood outlet in the state, he would still lose by ten points outside the urban centers.

The DCCC needs to wake the fuck up. The problem is not abortion. The problem is 30 years of propaganda designed to reinforce tribalism among the Republican base, which in Tennessee at least is synonymous with fundamentalist Christians. If it wasn't abortion, it would be something else. Like, I dunno, race maybe?

Those voters are lost to us. They are unreachable. Period. But they are also a minority, just a very motivated minority that shows up at the polls slightly more often than the majority. The Democratic party needs to build our own highly motivated minority. How do you do that? Make the two foundational planks for your platform Total Reproductive Freedom For All and Medicare For All. Then work outwards from there.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:33 PM on August 2 [60 favorites]


(on the subject of marriage equality)

But that caveat inherently concedes that Obama and Biden could be counted on to, and did, stick up for LGBTQ Americans on just about every other issue. Where the Republican position seems at best that they should be seen and not heard -- or as Killgrave put it in , better yet, not seen and not heard. So marriage equality aside, I would imagine and hope that there would be plenty of perceived reason to vote Democrat in 2008 over a Republican. Because, well, duh.
posted by Gelatin at 12:35 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


> YCTaB: In what way does that argument not preclude supporting Obama in 2008 because of his opposition to gay marriage?

When you don't — publicly! — stick up for the people who your party purports to represent, they aren't going to stand up for you, either.

Because this is exactly what happened; Neither Obama nor Biden publicly stuck up for gay people.


To answer the question in the same way that I answered it in the godforsaken federal politics thread: The appropriate thing to do when casting a vote — and don't mistake "casting a vote" for "participating in politics," because the former item is a small element of the latter set — anyway, the appropriate thing to do when casting a vote is to always vote for the leftmost viable candidate. In 2008, Obama was the leftmost viable candidate in both the primary and the general; as such, I voted for him both times. In 2016 Sanders was the leftmost viable candidate in the primary, so I voted for him there, and Clinton was the leftmost viable candidate in the general, so I voted for her there. None of these votes represent an endorsement of Obama, Sanders, or Clinton, all of whom were deeply flawed candidates.

And yes, the failure of Obama and Biden to stick up for gay people was a blunder. It was a relatively small blunder — in large part because their opposition to marriage equality was so clearly disingenuous — but it was a blunder.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:36 PM on August 2 [20 favorites]


From the other thread:

agregoli: I'm taking all this wishy washy stuff about allowing anti choice dems a place in our government extremely personally. It's hurtful and gross to know that even some Mefi members think holding the line on basic women's healthcare is too much to insist on.

Since mine is probably among the comments this is responding to, I wanted to follow up and try to be as clear as possible. I'm really sorry if I in any way indicated that holding the line on basic women's healthcare is too much to insist on. It should be a bare minimum for public service. What I'm wrestling with is the fact that on the one hand, the Republicans are kicking our assess and everyone's human rights are under attack from all fronts right now, and the idea of the "fifty state strategy" seems to be the only thing that's worked in recent years to combat that. And on the other hand, in some districts the "best" Dems the party seems to manage to produce are still shit on this absolutely critical issue of women's reproductive health. What do we do about this? If the party abandons women's reproductive health as a core plank in its platform, it's not worth saving, but if it refuses to support candidates who will otherwise defend that platform from the Republican opposition in every district that it can, then maybe it can't be saved.

I completely agree with the idea that we need to get more liberal Dems through the primaries in every district, and use those elections as opportunities to reclaim the dialog on women's reproductive health. But when we (meaning pro-women's-health Dems) fail to get an acceptable candidate through the primary, and we know that the Republican opponent in the general is going to be even more aggressively pro-forced-birth than the Dem candidate who won the primary, what do we do?
posted by biogeo at 12:37 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


anyway, the appropriate thing to do when casting a vote is to always vote for the leftmost viable candidate.

Wait... where do we disagree then? Because that's my position.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on August 2


If we're simply disagreeing on who the "leftmost viable candidate" is in, say, West Virginia.... 🤷
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on August 2


I don't agree with Jeff Flake on much, but I do believe that once the Republicans ceded their longstanding policy platform on small government/states' rights to the Wars of the Middle East, the only thing they had left to do was argue about abortion, bathroom bills, voting "rights," etc. Democrats should not use this moment of Trump panic to cede policy ground. If we can't win against anti-choice Joe Bob Chucklefuck in West Virginia without running his twin brother, oh fucking well. You can't win them all. (Note that I said anti-choice; Tim Kaine is not in favor of abortion but is dedicated to upholding women's health care rights and equality. As all Democrats should be.)

But, I must admit, Democrats have been shaky on bodily autonomy and equal rights for the differently abled, so I'm almost not surprised to see people like Sanders ceding ground on a woman's right to choose. In particular, many, many Democrats seem perfectly happy to deprive the mentally ill of various rights and privileges in a way that would be shocking if we were talking about people in wheelchairs.
posted by xyzzy at 12:40 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]


As far as I can tell, the only Democrat who didn't get a 100% rating from NARAL last year was Joe Donnelly from Indiana. All the other red staters including Manchin, Heitkamp, etc voted in lockstep with their more liberal colleagues.

That's a good thing. But as others have pointed out, even if an anti-choice Dem votes the way we want, the fact that they use and provide cover for anti-choice rhetoric in public discourse is itself doing harm.
posted by biogeo at 12:40 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]


Here, the Democratic brand is deeply and throughly identified with baby killers, and the Republicans so deeply identified with Good Christian Values

And there's another issue Democrats should stop conceding to the Republicans. Which doesn't mean campaigning as holier than thou, but fundamentalist theology is usually bad theology, and given that most Democratic positions are arguably the more moral ones, it shouldn't be rocket scientist to frame them in terms that resonate with people of sincere christian faith (as opposed to the Team Jesus tribe, which are probably lost to Democrats, yes).

That Amy McGrath ad for her House race in Kentucky is the kind of thing I have in mind -- she frames her story in ways that align her with the voters and, just as importantly, the voters against Republicans.
posted by Gelatin at 12:40 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


> But when we (meaning pro-women's-health Dems) fail to get an acceptable candidate through the primary, and we know that the Republican opponent in the general is going to be even more aggressively pro-forced-birth than the Dem candidate who won the primary, what do we do?

Vote for the leftmost viable candidate and do whatever work you can to help make all fifty states pro-choice.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:41 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Vote for the leftmost viable candidate and do whatever work you can to help make all fifty states pro-choice.

Yes, but do we tolerate the DCCC funding the leftmost viable candidate in the immediate term if that candidate is anti-choice?
posted by biogeo at 12:43 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


"viable" is not getting nearly the attention it should be in that formulation.
posted by Etrigan at 12:46 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


It's even more complicated than that, biogeo, as the NARAL ratings show. It's "Do we tolerate the DCCC funding the leftmost viable candidate in the immediate term if that candidate occasionally says anti-choice things but does not generally vote anti-choice." (Yes I have read, and understood, people who comment that words matter and contribute to creating an atmosphere of anti-choice hostility.)
posted by Justinian at 12:46 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


>> anyway, the appropriate thing to do when casting a vote is to always vote for the leftmost viable candidate.

> Wait... where do we disagree then? Because that's my position.


Voting is a small element within the larger field of political activity. If we have a shared algorithm for casting our individual votes, hooray, but that's relatively unimportant.

So to answer your question: Lindy West's article, and this discussion, is about an announcement made by the chairman of the DCCC. Quote the article:
Democrats will fund anti-choice candidates in conservative districts, Representative Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview this week, citing the party’s need to build “a broad coalition” to win control of Congress in 2018. “There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján told The Hill. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”
Lindy West argues, and I enthusiastically agree, that this is a massive tactical blunder on the part of the Democratic Party's institutional leadership. I think it's one that the Democratic Party's real leadership — which is to say, grassroots activists — needs to push back on immediately, and hard, because Luján's position is both immoral and also a way to lose votes.

I don't know if you agree with that or not.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:47 PM on August 2 [19 favorites]


I'm as pro abortion as anyone can be, and have spent much of my career working in abortion care. I completely respect the rights of others who believe abortion may not be an acceptable decision for themselves. I am well aware that for some women and families, abortion is a difficult and conflicted decision, and for some, it's more straightforward, with tons of responses inbetween.

However, even for anti-abortion Dems, why can't we have a bit of Bidenesque political tolerance? I am quite sure he was, personally and as a Catholic, not in favor of abortion, but professionally and politically supportive of ensuring that women have access to safe abortion care. It seems that his public profession of this view would and could go a long way in winning the votes, or at least catching the ear of, many of the voters they're trying to capture.

I'm also highly in favor of removing the word "choice" and "life" from the debate. Either one is pro-abortion or anti-abortion. (And we of course know that those caling themselves "pro-life" are anything but!) However, women and families make--and should be allowed to--informed decisions to have a medical procedure of terminating a pregnancy. This may or may not be a fraught decision and carry many other emotional, financial, and social implications that, say, extracting a tooth, does not. However, having a "choice," I think, belittles the experience as if someone is choosing between red or pink for nail varnish, and implies that the outcome (e.g., abortion) is an optional one. It is of course a woman's right to decide whether or not to have the abortion, but it is not and should never be a "choice" that can be snatched away at the whim of a zealous legislator.
posted by stillmoving at 12:49 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


I don't know if you agree with that or not.

Hm. I would say that I believe the DCCC's position is the one most likely to result in the platform of the Democratic party being advanced nationally. So I guess we do disagree.
posted by Justinian at 12:49 PM on August 2


(The entire platform, including reproductive rights.)
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Yes, we do.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:51 PM on August 2


We also have to consider the implications if nominating a Democrat who isn't orthodox on every essential issue means the DCCC immediately throws them under the bus. Don't put red-district Democratic primary voters in the position of having to choose between Unelectable Lefty McLefterson vs Unfunded Moderate de Middleton.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:51 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


And again I defer to Lindy West, and to Excommunicated Cardinal's brilliantly stated letter to the DCCC: indicating a loud support for misogynist candidates in misogynist districts is a way to permanently alienate the Democratic Party's most effective campaign workers. And those workers are more important to the success of the Democratic Party nationally — and in West Virginia! — than Joe Manchin is.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:52 PM on August 2 [15 favorites]


I 100% support a women's right to choose, especially at this moment and time when these legislative decisions have been mad eneirely by rich white men.

I wonder if there is room in this position for me to also think that our long term goals should be to increase sexual education and medical access to the point that we can eliminate as many abortions as possible and, by providing sufficient knowledge (and advancement in technology) we can up the time frame in which all abortions occur with a goal of ceasing abortions as early in the term as possible except in need of medical intervention? I realize that would require a degree of access to education and care that some may not see as possible, but it seems like a goal that might draw in pro-life leaning individuals without de-centering women's rights.
posted by cyphill at 12:52 PM on August 2


Voting is a small element within the larger field of political activity. If we have a shared algorithm for casting our individual votes, hooray, but that's relatively unimportant.

Actually having that consensus re voting strategy is the most important thing for me. To the extent that I have pushed back against litmus tests it is only intended to be re voting; messaging is something I assume I am so bad at that I wouldn't presume to give any recommendation one way or the other.
posted by Jpfed at 12:53 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I'll also note that at the moment I think emjaybee's comment above gives the best answer to my question of what the Democratic party should do. Maybe the most perfect answer.
posted by biogeo at 12:55 PM on August 2


"I am personally uncomfortable with abortion, but I am in favor of women's bodily autonomy. I stand with Planned Parenthood and reproductive health for women" is, as far as I am concerned, pro-choice. If you, the uncomfortable-with-abortion politician, leave your own personal feelings out of public policy, that's pro-choice.

Republicans have painted pro-choice with the "BAYBEE KILLER ZOMG!" brush, but I don't think Democrats have helped things by being wishy-washy. I think it's time to take "pro-choice" back and reframe it as "pro-women and pro-children" - because it is Democrats who want to make life better for the babies who are already born, and if that isn't on the side of life, what isn't? You think that babies are precious - put your money where your mouth is! Make sure they are born wanted and healthy, to parents who have health care and parental leave!

I think Gelatin is right that the Democratic leadership is still in a "defensive crouch" - and, moreover, is reliving the 80's like some kind of political Groundhog Day. The people they think it's important to court - socially conservative whites - have all taken their toys and gone to play with the Republicans. The swing voter is almost entirely extinct; the white Dixiecrat is as dead as the dodo.

Let's leave behind the "Abortion is BAAAAD!" "Let's hang Planned Parenthood out to dry!" rhetoric because that's not going to lure any new voters in to the Democrats, nor will it drive anyone away at this point. Let's make it plain that we believe in healthcare for all, bodily autonomy for all, the right of women, LGBT folks, and children to safety and health.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:56 PM on August 2 [21 favorites]


Mine as well, biogeo.
posted by Justinian at 12:56 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


And yes, the failure of Obama and Biden to stick up for gay people was a blunder. It was a relatively small blunder — in large part because their opposition to marriage equality was so clearly disingenuous — but it was a blunder.

Perhaps this was a small blunder to you, but to many of us it was crushing and dehumanizing and had serious real-life consequences.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:57 PM on August 2 [11 favorites]


As Justinian says, it's complicated. I think there's a difference between saying "we must run pro-life candidates to win certain districts", which I don't believe is true, and "we have an otherwise terrific candidate in a difficult district who describes themselves as pro-life, and part of that is that they support funding for Planned Parenthood, etc." The latter is sort of the Bob Casey model.
posted by lalex at 12:57 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Perhaps this was a small blunder to you, but to many of us it was crushing and dehumanizing.

This is why I think it's such a good analogy. If people understand why they supported Obama despite this massive failure (and I assume they do) then I think they should be able to understand why I don't think it's inherently immoral to support people like Joe Manchin despite his massive failures.

Hell, in some ways Obama's position was less understandable since he wasn't running in goddamn West Virginia.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


To address the article more directly, it continues to shock me how many people view women's rights to our own bodies as so weak and trivial that they can be put on the table like this. I have to wonder which of their own civil rights the (cisgender, straight, white, abled) men of the left would put on the table so eagerly.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:00 PM on August 2 [27 favorites]


“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján told The Hill. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”

In addition to its other problems, this assertion is utterly false. There are tons of litmus tests for Democratic candidates. You can't be explicitly racist. You can't say you personally hate LGBT people. You can't say "a woman's place is in the home." You can't hold a thousand different positions that are perfectly viable on the right. Arguing that we have to support anti-choice candidates on the grounds of "no litmus testing" is completely disingenuous at best, and a slimy misdirection at worst. Of course there are litmus tests, and there should be, and abortion should be one of them.
posted by chortly at 1:03 PM on August 2 [37 favorites]


This is why I think it's such a good analogy. If people understand why they supported Obama despite this massive failure (and I assume they do) then I think they should be able to understand why I don't think it's inherently immoral to support people like Joe Manchin despite his massive failures.

You're allowed to take this position, but to me everyone who wanted to blow off that Obama didn't support even something so conservative as marriage equality until it was beneficial to him was another person telling me how unimportant my community is and that I should be okay with that, should expect to be an issue rather than a person, should sit quietly with my hands folded and wait until someone else tells me that it's an okay time for us to declare that we are human too.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:05 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


To a certain extent I think I'm making a tone argument here. Not wholly, but partially at least, because of what West said in her article and others have said elsewhere about the problem of encouraging forced-birthers.

If the DCCC decided, quietly, that it would fund whoever won the primary regardless of their position on abortion, I'd be opposed but in a much more academic sort of way. Instead the DCCC appears to be going far out of its way to vocally and as visibly as possible declare that bitches ain't shit and that anyone who advocates for forced birth totally has a place in the Democratic Party and they'd be delighted to fund them.

That sort of enthusiastic, loudmouthed, fuck women, attitude is what is rousing my personal ire.

And it's an unforced error. They didn't need to be out there making a huge press conference production about how proud they are to, yet again, throw women under the bus and emphasize the contempt they have for women and women's rights. Because, again, to those of us who actually care about this issue that's exactly what the whole thing looked like: a celebratory bunch of guys talking about how much they loved forced birthers and how little they cared about women's rights.

If the decision had been quiet and the vocal, visible, position of the DCCC was that abortion rights were human rights, I'd be vastly less upset because I do see this as at least as much of a matter of Overton Window shifting and conversation term setting as a matter of funding.

We aren't going to win and finally put this forced birth crap into the scrapheap of history as long as the supposedly liberal party is out there vocally and enthusiastically declaring that abortion rights don't really matter.

Again, I'm not wholly making a tone argument here. But I do think that a large part of my visceral reaction here is the gloating, contemptuous, dismissive to us, tone that the DCCC is taking.
posted by sotonohito at 1:07 PM on August 2 [27 favorites]


Yeah, the DCCC does tend to suck. I am not being sarcastic. I understand completely that their messaging makes things worse.
posted by Justinian at 1:10 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


okay so I've got this bad tendency to look for abstract similarities between different disputes, but nevertheless I'm going to run with it in this case: the question is whether the most effective political party is the one that most effectively mirrors the views of the electorate, or if instead the most effective political party is the one that most effectively shifts the views of the electorate, either by changing individual minds or by better inspiring people to both vote for and campaign for their platform.

To my eye the Democratic Party tends to lose elections, and also popular support, when they adopt the mirror strategy.

I apologize for referring to Obama's lie in 2008 about what he actually believed as a small blunder; it was a betrayal. And likely one that cost him votes. That betrayal in 2008 should not be used as the model for future action by Democratic Party candidates.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:11 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


I'd also like to submit that the people arguing that anyone to the left of Manchin will never win are making utterly unfounded assumptions.

They're working on the assumption that left leaning D's will vote D no matter how much the D's push them away, but that right leaning D's are both super valuable and liable to bolt at the slightest hint that the candidate is to the left of Darth Vader.

I don't think that assumption is all that solid. I'm pretty sure that if the left leaning D's in West Virginia will grit their teeth and vote for Manchin than the right leaning D's will grit their teeth and vote for someone more liberal.

More to the point, I'd argue that elections are not won by appealing to the mythic middle, but by enthusing and energizing your base. Running milquetoast centrist drones who stand for nothing and have the personality of wet cardboard is never a winning strategy for any party.
posted by sotonohito at 1:11 PM on August 2 [8 favorites]


stillmoving: I'm also highly in favor of removing the word "choice" and "life" from the debate. Either one is pro-abortion or anti-abortion.

I'm in favor of changing the terms of the discourse as well, but I favor "pro-freedom" and "forced birth". I support a person who can get pregnant's freedom to make the best medical/life choice for them. Full stop. I see those who do not support that freedom as being forced-birthers: They want to make all people with a uterus give birth whether or not that person wants to. To me the latter position is like trying to say that you have make an organ donation to someone else, whether or not you want to. You can't make someone donate a kidney, so why is it permissible to force someone to donate a uterus.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 1:15 PM on August 2 [22 favorites]


This is why I think it's such a good analogy. If people understand why they supported Obama despite this massive failure (and I assume they do) then I think they should be able to understand why I don't think it's inherently immoral to support people like Joe Manchin despite his massive failures.

Hell, in some ways Obama's position was less understandable since he wasn't running in goddamn West Virginia.


I still think it's a bad analogy. In 2008, there was no nationwide marriage equality. In 2008, just like in 2017, there is a nationwide right to abortion.

An apt comparison would be suggesting the support of a Democrat who is supporting those "Religious Freedom" acts, that is to say, a Democrat who supports the regression of rights already present.
posted by anem0ne at 1:18 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


"Reproductive Liberty" *mic drop*
posted by mikelieman at 1:19 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


> They're working on the assumption that left leaning D's will vote D no matter how much the D's push them away, but that right leaning D's are both super valuable and liable to bolt at the slightest hint that the candidate is to the left of Darth Vader.

I don't think that assumption is all that solid. I'm pretty sure that if the left leaning D's in West Virginia will grit their teeth and vote for Manchin than the right leaning D's will grit their teeth and vote for someone more liberal.


The thing that's elided in this account is that the DCCC thinks of the right-leaning dems as precious snowflakes who will bolt at any moment because they themselves are right-leaning dems: they're supporting the faction within the party that they themselves identify with.

It's easiest to see someone's pain when that someone is you.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:19 PM on August 2 [11 favorites]


To my eye the Democratic Party tends to lose elections, and also popular support, when they adopt the mirror strategy.

My own feeling is that they only selectively claim to be using the mirroring strategy. To put a more quantitative spin on my comment above, as per my comment in the other thread, there are clear "litmus tests" that Democratic candidates not be explicitly racist, homophobic, or (to a degree) Islamophobic -- but 15-30% of Democratic voters are each of these things. If those voter preferences can be totally ignored, with no mirroring even in deep red districts, I would like the DCCC to explain why we can't also ignore the abortion preferences of the 25% of Democratic voters who are anti-choice.
posted by chortly at 1:20 PM on August 2 [13 favorites]


Bernie Sanders' litmus test is apparently single-payer Medicare for all, as he made clear in a donor-solicitaion email earlier this week:

"In order to pass a Medicare-for-all, single payer system we will be taking on the most powerful special interests in the country: Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the corporate media, the Republican Party and the establishment wing of the Democratic Party" (bolding mine)

So "establishment Dems" are the enemy on healthcare, but rightward, anti-choice Dems are totally our friends, and
instead it's Planned Parenthood that Sanders calls "the establishment" enemy standing in the way of progress.

The thing that is particularly galling to me about this is the specificity of "single-payer Medicare for all." Universal healthcare should be the litmus test, single payer Medicare should be the goal, with the recognition that even if every single citizen and lawmaker in the country were on board with it, it would be an order of magnitutde harder to implement than a million other things we can do to make sure all citizens have access to free/affordable quality healthcare.
posted by mrmurbles at 1:20 PM on August 2 [11 favorites]


"Pro-life" isn't a thing. You're either in favor of forced childbirth or you're not. Any organization wanting to claim it is progressive should never utter the term "pro-life" again.

There are proven ways to reduce the incidence of abortion. None of those ways includes forcing women and girls to endure childbirth. Anyone arguing that forced childbirth is a valid way to accomplish anything (other than maiming and killing women) is wrong and is lying and should not be eligible for public office.

You want to run for office as a Dem but abortions make you sad? Cool story. Support policies like free comprehensive sex education, contraception, parental leave, prenatal care, WIC, etc. and explain to your prospective constituents why that is a better way to oppose abortion. Do some fucking emotional labor and represent the girls in your district whose lives might depend on their parents believing that abortion is valid and necessary healthcare.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:21 PM on August 2 [51 favorites]


mmurbles your link about Sanders and PP is busted.
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Thanks Justinian. Hopefully one of these will work Sanders/Planned Parenthood links will work:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/01/20/bernie_sanders_says_planned_parenthood_is_establishment_is_it.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/planned-parenthood-bernie-sanders-218026

https://newrepublic.com/minutes/128042/bernie-sanders-calls-planned-parenthood-part-political-establishment
posted by mrmurbles at 1:29 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


The boilerplate letter has a "the the" typo in it, if you're planning to write the DCCC and use it (I wrote my own).

I am old enough to remember when abortion was illegal. Abortion happened then, too. You know that 70% figure of people who support Roe v. Wade? It goes WAY up when people are personally affected by a pregnancy.

Don't get me wrong: I don't believe in either political party, even though I'm a lifelong Democrat. I just prefer to ally myself with a party that sorta kinda vaguely stands for the things that matter to me, and reproductive rights have been a deal-killer for me for candidates - I will not vote for a "pro-life" candidate unless the alternative is a lizard person, and even then it will make me sick.
posted by Peach at 1:29 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


So this is a lazy, lazy move, but here are the results I get when I google for "support for abortion rights in west virginia poll," without quotes.

Some of those articles reference a PPP poll taken back in 2014, when the state legislature was considering a 20-week abortion ban. quote:
The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of Planned Parenthood Health Systems, found that voters are less likely to support a 20-week abortion ban once they have more information about the circumstances under which a woman may need later abortion care. The poll asked voters whether women should be able to have in abortion if she discovers serious fetal abnormalities, or if continuing her pregnancy poses critical health risks, or if she became pregnant from rape. When asked about women facing these specific circumstances, the majority of respondents said they should be able to access abortion services in those cases.

Ultimately, PPP found that up to 69 percent of voters believe a later abortion ban is the wrong issue for the legislature to spend its time on.
Other articles reference a poll carried out by a pro-Democratic Party think tank. Quote:
A survey of West Virginia voters, conducted by the American Majority Project Research Institute, found 76 percent of respondents believe medical decisions about reproductive issues should be made by a woman and her doctor.

Across the political spectrum, whether people self-identified as liberal or conservative, they largely supported reproductive justice for women, including support for Medicaid coverage for prenatal and maternity care and abortion (69 percent) and coverage for contraception in health plans provided by employers (64 percent).

More than 900 voters from Berkeley, Cabell and Kanawha counties responded to the online survey.
I can make no claims to the rigor of the methodologies used in these polls — I'm especially giving side-eye to the phrase "responded to the online survey" in the second one — or for their applicability for estimating how well West Virginians on the whole will respond to pro-abortion-rights candidates. I tried to correct for google's tendency to show me what I want to see by searching 1) in an incognito window while 2) using a VPN, but I admit that the search terms I used may tend to yield antimisogynist rather than misogynist results. I am eager to see other polls on this topic, if other people have them, or to hear from West Virginians themselves.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:30 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


The naive, utopian dreamer in me wants to believe we're witnessing the final breakdown of the two-party system and a genuine opening for something less wasteful and cruel.

The rest of me is terrified.
posted by eotvos at 1:32 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


> The naive, utopian dreamer in me wants to believe we're witnessing the final breakdown of the two-party system and a genuine opening for something less wasteful and cruel.

The rest of me is terrified.


All of you is right.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:33 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


FWIW I think by far the best argument for the anti-DCCC position is chortly's comment here. There is a counterargument but not one I'm totally comfortable with the strength of, so if any argument flips my position it will be this one.
posted by Justinian at 1:34 PM on August 2


Yes, "pro-life" should be banned from any sane lexicon! Apologies if that wasn't clear from my prior post. What I meant to emphasize was my distaste for "pro-choice"--that this feels like a flavor of the month or something that can be taken off of the table for women, as if it's an OPTION. It's not. It's a right.

Cardinal, thank you for your reply. The trouble I have with "pro freedom" and "forced birth" are that "pro freedom" doesn't necessarily include freedom to access reproductive healthcare, and "freedom" has been coopted by so many crappy right-extremist groups that it seems like a bit of a fraught phrase at this point.

"Forced birth" per your definition says that anti-abortion people want to make everyone with a uterus have a baby, which is not entirely true. They want to take away the right of a pregnant woman to decide the outcome of that pregnancy. You are right that you can't force anyone to donate an organ, but the fetus-uterus relationship is different, I think. The difference with organ donation is that, in the kidney case, there's another person who needs the kidney but is not yet reliant upon it. In the abortion case, there is a fetus that depends on the mother's uterus and body, and is wholly dependent upon those. Not sure if that feels like too fine of a semantic distinction, but to me it seems it might be important in discourse with People/voters.
I like "pro-abortion" because, to me, it means that I am in support of any abortion that a woman decides freely to have, as well as the right for every woman to make that decision herself.
posted by stillmoving at 1:40 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted, no "but Clinton wasn't good" stuff in here, seriously.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:43 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]


[Another deleted. jeff-o-matic, give this thread a pass from here on out.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:50 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


The thing that is particularly galling to me about this is the specificity of "single-payer Medicare for all." Universal healthcare should be the litmus test, single payer Medicare should be the goal, with the recognition that even if every single citizen and lawmaker in the country were on board with it, it would be an order of magnitutde harder to implement than a million other things we can do to make sure all citizens have access to free/affordable quality healthcare.

I think you're wrong. Medicare For All would be significantly easier to both sell and implement than more tweaking of the for-profit insurance system. It's something everyone already understands and likes. Look at the trainwreck the ACA rollout turned into. Its very complexity made it hard to sell and harder to defend. It was so complex and obtuse that some people who were actively benefitting from it wanted to abolish it. I have personally benefitted tremendously from the ACA, and I would sign up for Medicare in a heartbeat if I could.

If there is to be a litmus test for Democrats, let it be a two-headed litmus test. Medicare For All and Reproductive Freedom For All. The time for half measures is long past.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:53 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


Torn between Excommunicated Cardinal's letter and "Re abortion: Please Stop Own Goal-ing" on a dozen postcards.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:59 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there is room in this position for me to also think that our long term goals should be to increase sexual education and medical access to the point that we can eliminate as many abortions as possible and, by providing sufficient knowledge (and advancement in technology) we can up the time frame in which all abortions occur with a goal of ceasing abortions as early in the term as possible except in need of medical intervention? I realize that would require a degree of access to education and care that some may not see as possible, but it seems like a goal that might draw in pro-life leaning individuals without de-centering women's rights.

These are already goals of pro-choice, pro-bodily-autonomy people. Pro-choice people have been pushing for better sexual education and increased access to birth control for as long as the discussion has been going on. The fact that you think these aren't already goals is an indicator of how effective the pro-forced-birth propaganda has been.
posted by Lexica at 2:03 PM on August 2 [28 favorites]


I think what was missing from my comment maybe is that I think at some point if free access to care and education can be ensured then maybe we could in fact have stricter legal restrictions in timing which I don't see as being the mainstream opinion? Maybe it is?
posted by cyphill at 2:08 PM on August 2


> maybe we could in fact have stricter legal restrictions in timing

The vast majority of states already have "not after [X] weeks" laws on the books, with exceptions for the life of the mother.

How much stricter do you want?
posted by rtha at 2:14 PM on August 2 [21 favorites]


The British NHS offers free contraception for all. And here is a map of countries that also offer free birth control (the Pill, in this case).

If the United States can make its way to healthcare for all, subsidized birth control, prenatal care, ob/gyn services and, yes, abortion, is do-able. We only lack the political will.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:16 PM on August 2 [7 favorites]


I think at some point if free access to care and education can be ensured then maybe we could in fact have stricter legal restrictions in timing

No. This is the same old bullshit, but delivered in a pretty bag to make it more palatable.

The problem is that it ties the right to an abortion to a woman's perceived responsibility. What you're saying is that if we can blame the woman for the unwanted pregnancy--that is, if we've made it so there aren't ever external circumstances that "excuse" her, like ignorance or an empty bank account--then maybe it's okay if she is forced to give birth.

This is a bog-standard anti-choice view; see the number of people who support exceptions for rape. The only difference is that you're a little more lenient about what you consider a legitimate "excuse."

A view that respects women's rights and respects them as full human beings rejects this framing altogether. Abortion is a right that has nothing to do with how good or responsible you are. You do not lose your right to bodily autonomy because you don't meet someone's standards for respectability.

(I hesitate to even point out that birth control can fail, because I feel like that's buying into the argument that if it never failed this would be okay. But birth control can fail.)
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:26 PM on August 2 [60 favorites]


Not to mention the multiple appointments you have to make, ultrasounds you must have, sometimes incorrect or misleading medical information you must be told by your provider, notifications of your parents if you are a minor in some states, justification to a judge if you are a minor who does not want to notify your parents in some states, prohibitive cost because of restrictions on insurers in some places...

It is already not easy to get an abortion in many places in the United States. And restricting abortion just makes it more dangerous. Further restrictions on abortion are an irresponsible and anti-women policy and I will not support a political party that thinks that that is an OK solution.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:27 PM on August 2 [28 favorites]


Very few things give me less hope for the future than the Democratic Party. I could emotionally handle Trump and the current GOP a hell of a lot better if the opposition party was actually an opposition party instead of a bunch of small-c conservatives who (mostly) still believe that women are people.

This is not a revelatory statement or anything, but we don't have a left party in this country. We have the Handmaid's Tale Party and a center-right coalition that is still wedded to the neoliberal third way that was winning them national elections in the '90s, now that that no longer appears to be a viable strategy, will throw out any of their social "litmus tests" if it gives them the opportunity to win elections.
posted by Automocar at 2:31 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


The gleeful rules lawyering about Obama in 2008 is beyond fucking gross. Here are the reasons this lesbian raised by lesbians doesn't give a shit about your Obama analogy:

- as hurtful as homophobia has been my entire life (how many people here have had difficulties with family in the hospital because of this bullshit? Bc I'm raising my hand), failing to support gay marriage in 2008 is not anywhere near on par with failing to support bodily autonomy for half the goddamn population, and making that equivalence is once again offensive beyond belief
- you know what I didn't do in 2008? I didn't volunteer. I didn't donate money. I didn't do a goddamn thing but show up to vote, and when I did I was voting against the GOP.

There is no equivalent to forcing women to endure childbirth. It is a way of denying women their humanity while using the goddamn state to rape them. If you don't see how this is qualitatively different from supporting civil unions over marriage for same sex couples, then you do not belong in this conversation.
posted by schadenfrau at 3:31 PM on August 2 [38 favorites]


Rosie, yur point about the NHS is an interesting one! Birth control is indeed provided free and on demand for anyone who wants it, and abortions are covered by the NHS for UK residents. Interestingly, the frequency of abortions (1/3 women will have one) are similar to the US; however, the number of lifetime pregnancies is much lower.. This is great testament to the fact that a) as long as people have sex, there are people who will fall pregnant and decide not to continue the pregnancy; and b) providing access to contraception does affirm women's reproductive autonomy and works as successfully prevent pregnancies (surprise!) But you have to have both contraception AND abortion to set this balance, so I worry that idolising the NHS and pushing for contraception provision is another way to scale back abortion rights, and the subsequent impact this has on the health of the country.

For example, this great report from the Center for Reproductive Health, shows that the more cuts made to abortion access, the worse women and children fare.
posted by stillmoving at 3:35 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Phrasing the litmus test as "abortion rights" is a concession to the anti-abortionists. The litmus test is as to whether women (or men, in different circumstances) have the absolute right to make decisions about their bodies, their health, and their future. Abortion is merely one of the most dramatic examples of that right.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:36 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]


The damage in shifting the Overton Window has already been done. The DCCC had another that women's roughs are negotiable. Basic reproductive freedoms are not as important as taking leadership of the House.

The DCCC probably sees this as brilliant 3-Dimensional chess- I see it as another step in the long-term erosion of women's reproductive rights. This is how civil rights are lost: step by step.

This is the camel's nose under the tent; in a couple decades, the DCCC will be talking about how reasonable it is for women who have been convicted of felony use of contraceptives to be denied the vote.
posted by happyroach at 3:39 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


I'm also highly in favor of removing the word "choice" and "life" from the debate. Either one is pro-abortion or anti-abortion.

This is like saying nobody's pro-dentistry; you're either for root canals or against them.

I am pro-abortion all the way in certain circumstances (namely, all the circumstances in which a pregnant woman or girl wants to have one.) That, of course, is the long-winded way of saying I'm pro-choice. Pro reproductive choice is just fine if we have time to be medium-winded.
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:44 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Only proper response to a forced-birther Dem is "we will primary the fuck out of you"
posted by mabelstreet at 3:57 PM on August 2 [11 favorites]


A little disgruntled kvetching: I volunteer for a family planning org that the local Right to Life affiliate has targeted. Even with our funding in the balance - and without that funding poor women of color won't be able to access certain services - the local #resist and Democratic groups have been utterly non-existent while the RTL constituency has bombarded local government with demands to defund us.

That extremely disappointing non-response seems to put the lie to the notion that progressives care enough to actually do anything about it.
posted by jpe at 3:58 PM on August 2 [16 favorites]


Another gay Obama voter here. There was nothing to take away in 2008, and as far as I know, the president can't ban marriage via executive order. So regardless of his personal beliefs, there was no actual threat. These days, if the DCCC was funding anti-marriage-equality candidates I'd be infuriated. I'm currently infuriated on behalf of everyone with a uterus. I wish there was some way to end FPTP so we could have viable 3rd parties.
posted by AFABulous at 4:16 PM on August 2 [15 favorites]


For the record, here's where Obama was at the time of the election (emphasis mine):
In August 2008, he told Southern California megachurch Pastor Rick Warren his definition of marriage: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix."

He later added: "I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions."
Not great, but good enough. A better analogy to abortion would be "Obama supports forced conversion therapy." I hope no one in this thread would have voted for him.
posted by AFABulous at 4:22 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


stillmoving: Thanks for clarifying your position :). How to talk about abortion, family planning, and reproductive healthcare effectively in order to protect and advance the human right to those services is very interesting to me. I really don't mean to imply or suggest that you are wrong in any way in how you choose to talk about this issue, especially since I think we're broadly in agreement--just hoping to clarify my own thinking a bit!

"pro freedom" doesn't necessarily include freedom to access reproductive healthcare, and "freedom" has been coopted by so many crappy right-extremist groups that it seems like a bit of a fraught phrase at this point.

I see what you mean about pro-freedom, though a couple of points. a) I'm not sure that pro-abortion/pro-choice verbiage adequately include the right to access healthcare. I definitely see healthcare--including reproductive healthcare--as a human right, and in my mind "pro-reproductive freedom" maybe pre-supposed that. So thanks for pointing out that rhetorical shortcoming. b) I see invoking the parlance of "freedom" as trying to take it back from those right-wing extremists...and I also see why others wouldn't be comfortable with that choice of language.

"Forced birth" per your definition says that anti-abortion people want to make everyone with a uterus have a baby, which is not entirely true. They want to take away the right of a pregnant woman to decide the outcome of that pregnancy.

Perhaps in my letter I was ambiguous, but my intent was to suggest that that movement wants to force anyone person who becomes pregnant to give birth, whether or not they want to, which implies the your second sentence--that there is only a very few appropriate outcomes for a pregnancy.

You are right that you can't force anyone to donate an organ, but the fetus-uterus relationship is different, I think. The difference with organ donation is that, in the kidney case, there's another person who needs the kidney but is not yet reliant upon it. In the abortion case, there is a fetus that depends on the mother's uterus and body, and is wholly dependent upon those. Not sure if that feels like too fine of a semantic distinction, but to me it seems it might be important in discourse with People/voters.

For me, no being has the right to take a piece of someone's body or occupy someone's body--that's how those situations are quite equivalent to me. Others probably feel differently.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 4:35 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


I don't mean to imply that birth control makes abortion unnecessary! I think birth control and abortion go together with reproductive rights. I'm pretty sure that many of the countries that offer free birth control also have easy access to abortion.

It's frustrating that so many Democrats - especially the leadership - are so mealy-mouthed on the issue. As Excommunicated Cardinal among others have pointed out (and thanks, EC, for the excellent letter template!) - women form the backbone of Democratic support and volunteerism. And the socially-conservative white Democratic voter is dead, gone, kaput, pushing up daisies, an ex-Democrat. People for whom forced birth is important enough to vote on are gone to the Republicans.

Democratic leadership is frustrating in its weak-kneed timorousness and willingness to sell out allies in order to get back "swing voters" who don't exist anymore. We need to get out the vote because it is a problem that too many Democrats and potential Democrats stay home, especially in midterms. But we need to stand for rights, not against them!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:49 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


"Forced birth" per your definition says that anti-abortion people want to make everyone with a uterus have a baby, which is not entirely true.

Oh, hey, coming back to this.

What "forced birth" refers to is an orientation that if conception occurs it must be allowed to continue to its "natural" outcome. People on the pro-choice bodily autonomy side aren't generally claiming that all anti-choicers have some ideal of forced impregnation (although some anti-choicers do seem to think that). This is not an unrealistic dystopian vision of doctors wielding syringes of semen running around trying to impregnate people who were otherwise minding their own business. What "forced birth" refers to is the attitude that if a person with a uterus becomes pregnant, that pregnancy must be carried to term and the highest (if not only) priority is the wellbeing of the conceptus up to the point of delivery.
posted by Lexica at 4:49 PM on August 2 [17 favorites]


I also believe that if the litmus test is phrased as the right to make decisions about our bodies, then it is also a conservative right. Keep the government out of our bodies.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:51 PM on August 2


I took a look at the website of the so-called Democrats for Life that DNC chair Tom Perez recently met with. These fuckers support de-funding Planned Parenthood and repeat all the standard lies about why.

On the one hand, I see a case for providing funding for an anti-choice Dem to run against an even more aggressively anti-choice Republican. On the other, the leadership of the DNC has no business meeting with these fuckers. This may be a wing of the party that exists, but they are and should be on the margins, not helping shape strategy. This knowledge changes my perspective on the DCCC statements about funding candidates completely. Fuck them and the horse they rode in on.
posted by biogeo at 4:59 PM on August 2 [20 favorites]


The DCCC had another that women's roughs are negotiable. Basic reproductive freedoms are not as important as taking leadership of the House.

This assumes that DCCC cares about taking leadership of the House. All evidence I've seen indicates that they exist to keep incumbents in their seats, and that's it. If you need just one symbol of the utter rot in federal politics, you could do a lot worse than picking DCCC.
posted by indubitable at 5:21 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Democratic leadership is frustrating in its weak-kneed timorousness and willingness to sell out allies in order to get back "swing voters" who don't exist anymore.

From the NY Times: Senate Democrats Seek to Outdo Trump on Trade

The $15 minimum wage part of this is great, the trade protectionism is... mixed. It's a simplistic solution to the loss of manufacturing jobs which is more due to automation than free trade.

But taken in tandem with the FPP this is a really depressing sign that the party is buying into the myth that the way to win elections is to suck up to blue collar white men in the midwest.
posted by mrmurbles at 5:36 PM on August 2 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure I even really see how this makes sense from an amoral tactical standpoint. Where are all of these wonderful candidates who could win in Republican districts? Heath Mello lost the race for mayor of the 43rd largest city in the country by 9 points. The Hill's article brings up Brad Ellsworth (lost by 15 points in 2010), Baron Hill (lost by 10 points in 2010), Heath Shuler (left Congress in 2012 after redistricting), and Jason Altmire (lost a primary in 2012). These are guys who can't even maintain a Congressional seat for more than a couple terms, and only got in because it was a wave election where they got to ride the coattails of an extremely popular Presidential candidate. They are absolutely not a group of people who should be pandered to, let alone for basically the entire leadership of the Democratic Party to repeatedly give money and exposure to. I think it's pretty likely that anyone with a D by their name who didn't loudly support horrific policies would do almost exactly as well.
posted by Copronymus at 5:46 PM on August 2 [8 favorites]


And you know what else? Reproductive freedom is also economic issue.

For college graduates and those without a college degree, the researchers found lower lifetime incomes for women who gave birth for the first time at age 30 or younger. The hit was particularly stark for women without college degrees who had their first children before age 25.

And that's in DENMARK. Which has 18 months paid leave, and pays between 75% and 100% of childcare costs, depending on income.

So you want to reduce income inequality? Let women plan parenthood.
posted by mrmurbles at 8:41 PM on August 2 [26 favorites]


For me, if the choice was between getting a government that would outlaw abortion but otherwise implement superb policies, and getting a government that would outlaw abortion and otherwise implement Trumpian policies, it would be a conundrum.

That's not the choice though. It's between getting someone who will be unable to outlaw abortion but might help with other things, and someone who's bad on everything. I don't view the Democrats as, in any meaningful sense, an organization with ideals; it's this party that I want to accomplish things that are possible.

A thought experiment: Suppose we lived in a system with multiple viable parties who ruled in coalition. If you had a progressive party, pro-choice and generally close to what you wanted on all issues with 45% of the seats, and a party that was progressive but anti-choice with another 10%, would you oppose them forming a governing coalition even if it involved no compromises on abortion? Would you embrace this a litmus test, and having failed it, embrace the strategic choice that gave us a government that would outlaw abortion? Because for me that's the American system--parties that are really just coalitions you're getting together and trying to get good terms for.

Sure, if you're arguing you don't need them go for it. But that's not supporting a litmus test.
posted by mark k at 9:21 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


It's between getting someone who will be unable to outlaw abortion but might help with other things, and someone who's bad on everything.

Why do you say "unable to outlaw abortion"? No, Roe v. Wade will probably not be overturned in the near future, but plenty of state legislatures have made abortion access extremely difficult. Why couldn't that happen on a federal level if there were enough forced-birth Democrats?
posted by AFABulous at 9:29 PM on August 2 [9 favorites]


Anyway, all this reminds me of the poop shake comment.
posted by AFABulous at 9:32 PM on August 2 [5 favorites]


Why do you say "unable to outlaw abortion"? No, Roe v. Wade will probably not be overturned in the near future, but plenty of state legislatures have made abortion access extremely difficult. Why couldn't that happen on a federal level if there were enough forced-birth Democrats?

Roughly because that's the way party politics works. Joining a party that is overwhelmingly pro-choice basically means that you are caucusing with a party that's going to support you on things that are not abortion. You're going in acknowledging, tacitly or otherwise, that aspect of your policy desires is less important than the ones the Democrats will support you on. Same thing works in reverse, Republicans who nominally support some decent things won't deliver and are choosing not to deliver. In that sense the scare mongering both parties do--a vote for so-and-so is like a vote for Pelosi!--is sorta true.

It's certainly conceivable that you can get so many anti-choice Democrats this back fires, in the sense that I picture it happening and without violating laws of physics or something. But it's just not the choice we're facing at this moment in any federal election.

Put another way, replacing an anti-choice Republican with an anti-choice Democrat makes it harder to outlaw abortion, not easier. If we had 52 Democrats in the Senate, Gorsuch would not be on the bench even if the extra 4 were anti-choice.
posted by mark k at 10:06 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


As I said in the other thread, anyone taking an anti-abortion position is giving aid and comfort to domestic terrorists.

This is not a hypothetical issue. Abortion clinics have bulletproof windows and vests, abortion providers receive constant death threats and their families are stalked and harassed, women have to run a gauntlet just to access care. People were recently murdered in a Planned Parenthood because of forced birth propaganda. I hold all forced birth advocates responsible for those murders, for every death or injury as a result of forced childbirth, for every suicide and homicide that results from lack of access to abortion.

They have blood on their hands and should be shunned from public life by all who claim to value the lives of women.
posted by melissasaurus at 3:02 AM on August 3 [22 favorites]


Sometimes I feel the need to say this, and this is one of those times: My paternal grandmother had an abortion. My mother had an abortion. I had an abortion. All of this happened in California. My grandmother's abortion in 1920ish was legal, and she was fine; she had a doctor. My mother's happened in 1960, and because abortion was illegal she paid for available bullshit care - once she scored it - and ended up in a hospital (and was cared for because she had been a student worker there - lucky her!). My abortion in the 1980s was legal.

This is within a single family within sixty years. There will always be abortion. There will always be abortion. There will always be abortion.
posted by goofyfoot at 3:30 AM on August 3 [27 favorites]


I give less than a wet fart about whether someone is "personally conflicted about abortion"

Yeah, it seems we've seen this a couple thousand times even here on the blue, with conversations of this sort:

SOMEONE: A lot of people aren't pro-choice. My mother/friend/coworker/barista doesn't like abortion.
EVERYONE ELSE: Do they believe abortion should be restricted or illegal?
SOMEONE: No, they just find it unpleasant and would never have one themselves.
EVERYONE ELSE: Then they're pro-choice, they just don't call it that.

I'm also highly in favor of removing the word "choice" and "life" from the debate. Either one is pro-abortion or anti-abortion.

But if we want to move from feelings to policy support, this is exactly the wrong framing! Look at the above conversation. A lot of people do not like or desire abortion, even as they acknowledge that from a policy perspective it still needs to be available. That's fine and that's cool and those are people we need on our side. If we define the distinction as being for or against abortion, a lot of those people are going to say, "Well, abortion icks me out personally, so I guess I'm against."

We surely should be reframing our position, but we need to be pushing in the exact opposite direction, towards making our position less about the procedure itself and more about the society the procedure resides in. "Freedom" and "reproductive choice" are unambiguously desirable things which everyone wants. Not everyone wants an abortion, and "pro-abortion" reads that way to people not deeply engaged with the issue.
posted by jackbishop at 7:28 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


This article is a lie. It focuses on Heath Mello, a pro-choice Catholic Democrat in Nebraska who defended Planned Parenthood and fought against a Republican bill that would have required all women seeking abortion to get an ultrasound while he was in the state legislature. Mello was subject to a hit piece in the Wall Street Journal that misrepresented his positions and voting record. The Daily Kos then ran a hit piece penned by the owner of site repeating the claims of the WSJ article and cut off Mello's campaign from any fund-raising via the site.

Ben Luján is, guess what, another Catholic pro-choice Democrat with a 100% rating from both NARAL and Planned Parenthood. I think maybe Luján doesn't want to see what happened to Mello happen to him and all other Catholic Democrats (almost all of whom are pro-choice).

The article goes on add "Abortion is not controversial on the left. So what does it say that so many lefty men are willing to scrap it in an attempt to pander to some vague fantasy of a vast, disgruntled, anti-choice center?" Here Lindy West, the author of the article is conjuring up "so many lefty men" who are willing to throw women's access to abortion out of thin air because Sanders endorsed a pro-choice Democrat that she lied about.

This NYT article and the earlier one in WSJ seem to be part of a pattern. A campaign to get protestant and non-religious pro-choice Democrats to attack and deny funding to pro-choice Catholic Democrats through disinformation. If you see a Democratic politician described as "anti-choice", check the candidate's voting record and NARAL and Planned Parenthood ratings to see if that's actually true. There are very few anti-choice Democrats, even Catholic ones or "lefty men".
posted by nangar at 7:40 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


That's fine and that's cool and those are people we need on our side.

It's not fine. It's not cool. They aren't on our side and we don't need them.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:40 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


This article is a lie. It focuses on Heath Mello, a pro-choice Catholic Democrat in Nebraska who defended Planned Parenthood and fought against a Republican bill that would have required all women seeking abortion to get an ultrasound while he was in the state legislature. Mello was subject to a hit piece in the Wall Street Journal that misrepresented his positions and voting record. The Daily Kos then ran a hit piece penned by the owner of site repeating the claims of the WSJ article and cut off Mello's campaign from any fund-raising via the site.

Care to defend this argument? Because everything I've read about Mello shows that he isn't pro-choice. As the saying goes, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof, and if you're going to argue that there's a movement to attack Catholic Democrats over abortion, I'm going to have to ask you to show your work.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:57 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


There are very few anti-choice Democrats, even Catholic ones or "lefty men".

Luján said, as quoted in the first paragraph of this piece and elaborated on in a linked article, "There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates." He was talking about whether the DCCC would support any of those "very few anti-choice Democrats". Luján admits that they exist, and wants them in his version of the Democratic Party. Lindy West, and some others of us, do not want them in our version of the Democratic Party.
posted by Etrigan at 8:01 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


My husband and I were talking about this the other day and while he's a smart guy and very liberal, sometimes I catch traces of the long-term exposure to the Right's bullshit anti-abortion campaign. When he actually said, "I don't know. I just don't think an abortion should be easy to get. Like, you don't want people using it as birth control." I had to work hard to get myself in check because I really wanted to scream at the man I love. Instead, I replied, "Why in God's name is it fair to make a child be a punishment?"

I then went on to explain that of the teeny tiny fraction of women who use abortion as a method of birth control, they pay a price with their body and sometimes even their long term fertility. But seriously, if someone cannot or will not use birth control and is in such a life that she repeatedly gets pregnant with unwanted children, why, for fuck's sake, would you want to force that woman to have and raise a child??? How does that help society? Forcing the most irresponsible to be responsobile for the life of another human being? That's your plan to make us better?

After I calmed down slightly, I went on to point out that restricting access to abortion isn't just about making women who just don't give a fuck if they get knocked up suffer, it's about terrifying the straight A student into avoiding sex. It's about convincing women who might be on the fence about a child to keep it. It's about bullying women and young girls into a life of economic and social hardship because they made an error in judgement.

Because he's a good and smart man, he admitted that he hadn't thought very hard about the whole thing and that was wrong.

Seriously, a human life shouldn't be used as punishment.
posted by teleri025 at 8:01 AM on August 3 [15 favorites]


> It focuses on Heath Mello, a pro-choice Catholic Democrat in Nebraska who defended Planned Parenthood and fought against a Republican bill that would have required all women seeking abortion to get an ultrasound while he was in the state legislature.

So is this incorrect?
LB 675: In 2009, Mello co-sponsored and voted in favor of a bill requiring that an ultrasound used prior to the performance of an abortion must be displayed so that “the woman may choose to view the ultrasound images or not view the ultrasound images. The woman shall be informed that the ultrasound images will be displayed so that she is able to view them.” The bill also stated, “Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to require the woman to view the displayed ultrasound images.”[6]
The rest of his abortion-related legislative activities at the link lead me to conclude he is not actually pro-choice. He may not be as anti-abortion as some, but I'm not going to give him a cookie for that.
posted by rtha at 8:06 AM on August 3 [13 favorites]


Men rarely think very hard about the whole thing of abortion and that's why we're in this mess.
posted by agregoli at 8:09 AM on August 3 [10 favorites]


States With the Most Abortion Restrictions Also Have the Worst Women's Health: Report
“This report makes clear that politicians in states with the most extreme record of attacking reproductive rights are also far less likely to support the kind of programs and policies that actually advance the health and well-being of families," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

As a result, women and children who live in states with numerous abortion restrictions—like Texas (which includes 11 restrictions), Louisiana (13 restrictions), and Arkansas (also 13 restrictions)—are likely to suffer major setbacks in their overall health. Women are more likely to experience poverty, suffer from poor mental health, and face setbacks in their education or career. Texas in particular has some of the worst outcomes for women and surpasses the national average for maternal mortality rates. Conversely, in states with fewer restrictions, there are lower rates of poverty, better developmental and educational outcomes for children, and an overall improvement in health for women and their families.
Link to full report [pdf].

Other useful reading:
Whole Womens Health v. Hellerstedt and the numerous amicus briefs in support

Ginsburg's dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart

Characteristics of US Abortion Patients in 2014:
-Fifty-nine percent of abortion patients in 2014 had had at least one previous birth.
-75% of abortion patients are low income, having family incomes of less than 200% of the federal poverty level
-While most abortion patients had health insurance coverage, it was still the case that a majority paid for their abortion care out of pocket.
Guttmacher's Abortion Fact Sheet:
In 2011–2012, the average amount paid for an abortion in a nonhospital setting at 10 weeks’ gestation and with local anesthesia was $480. The average paid for an early medication abortion up to 9 weeks’ gestation was $504.

Eighty-four percent of clinics reported at least one form of antiabortion harassment in 2011. Picketing was reported by 80%, and phone calls by 47%. Fifty-three percent of clinics were picketed 20 times or more in a year. Three percent of clinics reported receiving at least one bomb threat in 2011.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:36 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


> Care to defend this argument? Because everything I've read about Mello shows that he isn't pro-choice. As the saying goes, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof...

Reasonable request.
D. D. Guttenplan, Why Was Heath Mello Thrown Under the Bus?, The Nation.
Three articles from Daily Kos after the site management's decision to Mello's campaign from any additional fund-raising on the site:
OmahaDemocrat, Was the candidate for mayor of Omaha held to a different standard than other Democrats?

Chris Reeves, Let's talk about Omaha.

Armando, Is it correct that Heath Mello is Anti Choice?
The comments on the Daily Kos posts go into detail about Mello's voting record. (There's added detail that an Our Revolution group endorsed Mello, not Sanders.)


a movement to attack Catholic Democrats over abortion ...

That was the effect of the WSJ article and the NYT one. My only argument is that there seems be a pattern, and people should be skeptical. The are plenty of people with motivation to encourage this kind infighting, and that's what these articles looks like.
posted by nangar at 9:07 AM on August 3


this kind infighting

Our concerns aren't infighting... Women are the backbone of Democratic campaigns. Woman, ime, are the most likely to show up and volunteer free labor for Democratic candidates. Women, particularly women of color, are the party's most dedicated supporters. We want our concerns and priorities centered in how party organizations spend money and recruit candidates. It's be-uterined people's health and human rights on the line here.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 9:24 AM on August 3 [15 favorites]


> So is this incorrect?
Mello co-sponsored and voted in favor of a bill requiring that an ultrasound used prior to the performance of an abortion must be displayed...

Yep. That's from the WSJ hit piece. The links I provided go into some detail about the fight over the abortion ultrasound bill in the Nebraska legislature, and Mello's roll in getting the provisions you quoted removed from the final bill.
posted by nangar at 9:30 AM on August 3


[People who don't like and desire abortion but regard it as a necessary social policy] aren't on our side and we don't need them.

I'm pretty sure we do, because that's a lot of people. "Abortion is awesome" is about as good a rallying cry for reproductive freedom as "chemotherapy is awesome" is for cancer treatment. People would much rather hear about the admirable things we can achieve than about the specific, often less comfortable ways we achieve them. A movement can't live on its passionate core alone; anyone who supports the right to an abortion is an ally and kicking them out of the boat for insufficient enthusiasm is not the way to win hearts and minds.
posted by jackbishop at 9:33 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The rest of his legislative history around abortion does not make him seem pro-choice. Good for him if he slightly de-terrible-ized an anti-abortion bill, but THAT action, in the context of his support for minor consent laws, prohibiting state exchanges from covering abortions, requiring MDs to be present for both medical and surgical abortions, etc., does not make him pro-choice and I am hella skeptical of your framing here.
posted by rtha at 9:37 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


I mean, you said he "fought against" the ultrasound bill. He co-sponsored and voted for it. In my book, fighting against it is not either of those things.
posted by rtha at 9:39 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Furthermore, the strategy to pass slightly less terrible laws restricting choice is a bad strategy. When you get laws passed that restrict choice, you legitimize the restriction of the bodily autonomy of women. Period.

So no, Mello is not being demonized. He's being held accountable for his actions.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:45 AM on August 3 [16 favorites]


"Abortion is awesome" is about as good a rallying cry for reproductive freedom as "chemotherapy is awesome" is for cancer treatment.

No one here is proposing "abortion is awesome" as a slogan. We're saying that the party that ostensibly supports women's bodily autonomy should not endorse, fund, and support candidates that have taken or indicated a willingness to take legislative action to restrict access to abortion.

But, if obtaining chemotherapy were as difficult, dangerous, and stigmatized as obtaining an abortion currently is (including that oncologists have to wear bulletproof vests to work and hire security for their minor children, including politicians at all levels expounding on their personal distaste for treating cancer), then "chemotherapy is awesome" wouldn't be a bad tagline. In fact, we just had national, successful protests about the right of people to access healthcare including numerous stories of the lives were saved by having access to chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

Being able to access necessary healthcare IS awesome. No Democrat should allege otherwise.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:51 AM on August 3 [23 favorites]


We're saying that the party that ostensibly supports women's bodily autonomy should not endorse, fund, and support candidates that have taken or indicated a willingness to take legislative action to restrict access to abortion.

Does the group I described ("people [who] do not like or desire abortion, even as they acknowledge that from a policy perspective it still needs to be available") fall into the category you despise? Because I entirely agree with your position on who is an acceptable standard-bearer and I have no idea how alienating people who concur with it by explicitly framing abortion rights as "being in favor of abortion" (without the "rights" part) is constructive.

My original statement was that we cannot afford to alienate those who share our policy goals while holding personal views which may not be fully enthusiastic towards the specifics of those goals. Your original dismissal ("It's not fine. It's not cool. They aren't on our side and we don't need them.") I took as relevant to that group. Now all of a sudden you're talking about those who follow policy goals opposite to our own? I'm a bit lost at this point.
posted by jackbishop at 10:21 AM on August 3


Men rarely think very hard about the whole thing of abortion

And yet they all seem to have opinions.

You believe that women have a right to autonomy over their own bodies if and only if you believe in the right to legal, safe, and easily accessible abortions on demand. Full fucking stop.

Guess how I feel about the opinions of people who don't want to grant me autonomy over my own body

No go ahead

Guess
posted by schadenfrau at 10:26 AM on August 3 [19 favorites]


Sigh. Another person arguing that we "despise" people who don't advance our cause of actually protecting our body autonomy. I don't despise them, but wonder why they hate women so much as to want us to suffer.

This argument is as old as the hills, that we should be "nice" to those who don't 100% support us in our wish to not be maimed, killed, and forced to give birth against our will. We should accept their "imperfect" support.

I do not accept that their mealy mouthed support helps our cause. I think it actively hurts. Healthcare for women is not "sad" and personal feelings of politicians mean shit all to women who need it.
posted by agregoli at 10:29 AM on August 3 [19 favorites]


(In the course of like 2 days, I've seen women's normal annoyance and outrage about shit women deal with characterized on this site as "hate," in one way or another, multiple times, when those type of words weren't used. Glad there's another FPP about female anger.)
posted by agregoli at 10:58 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Your original dismissal ("It's not fine. It's not cool. They aren't on our side and we don't need them.") I took as relevant to that group. Now all of a sudden you're talking about those who follow policy goals opposite to our own? I'm a bit lost at this point.

The DCCC claims that it must recruit and fund forced birth candidates because there is some large contingent of people who oppose access to abortion but otherwise support the Democratic policy platform in its entirety and that their opposition to abortion is strong enough to outweigh any other policy concern and either stay home or vote GOP. AND that this group is larger and more tactically important than those who support access to abortion. AND that the party has no moral or political obligation to counteract GOP propaganda on the issue of abortion access.

We don't need to fund the candidates because the people those candidates appeal to (a) are small in number, (b) do not make up the core of the Democratic base and volunteers, (c) are wrong/misinformed, and (d) are diametrically opposed to the rights of women.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:00 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]


And why are they eager to claim that? Because the DCC is still largely in the control of men, most of whom must be willing to throw women's rights under the bus to get what they want. More women in government NOW PLEASE
posted by agregoli at 11:02 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Another person arguing that we "despise" people who don't advance our cause of actually protecting our body autonomy

Given that I've said at least three times that I'm taking about people who support abortion rights, it would be really fuckling nice if you wouldn't ascribe to me a position I don't take.

personal feelings of politicians mean shit all to women who need it.

Indeed, that would be exactly why I suggested that people who support abortion rights are allies regardless of their inside-of-head attitude on abortion as a practice. Because their personal opinions mean shit all.
posted by jackbishop at 11:03 AM on August 3


Hey, you used the word despise, not us. I quoted your word, there.

They are not allies if they advance anti-choice rhetoric and are sympathetic to the same. Even here, in this thread, a person who voted for a stupid fucking bill is characterized as having "fought against it." There's a lot of middle-of-the-road men in government talking around this issue and I'm sick of it.

You can't make me accept them as allies. They aren't.
posted by agregoli at 11:08 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Yes, rtha, reviewing the Daily Kos threads, his record seems to be more mixed than I'd remembered. The Democrats managed to get enough Republican's to agree to a bill that required doctors to offer to do ultrasounds for women seeking abortion, but not requiring women to get them. Mello co-sponsored the replacement bill. But, yeah, from people familiar with his track record, it sounds like he started off his career in the legislature as fairly a conventional anti-choice politician but shifted his position over time and was eventually instrumental in getting a defanged version of the ultrasound bill passed.

If I'd reviewed this stuff before I posted my original comment, and I should have, I probably would have started off my comment something like "It's a bit more complicated than author's presenting it" rather "This article is a lie."

I wish you'd at least read the Nation I linked to up-thread, since it's a bit more succinct than the other stuff, but know you probably won't do that.
posted by nangar at 11:16 AM on August 3


We don't need to fund [non-supportive] candidates

Never said we should, nor do I believe we should. I'm taking about framing, outreach, and how to help supporters (as in voters) label themselves in a way which gives them psychological space to get on board with us.

We don't need to compromise. But we also don't need to cede the rhetorical framing..
posted by jackbishop at 11:17 AM on August 3


Your comments also veer towards telling women how to speak nicely about demanding the right to our own bodies, and all I'm asking for is for you to please consider that it isn't a good look, whether you intend that or not, and I'm sure you do not.

The only way to frame this issue is what schadenfrau said: "You believe that women have a right to autonomy over their own bodies if and only if you believe in the right to legal, safe, and easily accessible abortions on demand."

This stuff is easy. After 2016, I am done with any wobbling on this issue, and if the Democrats can't hold fast, I'm done with them too.
posted by agregoli at 11:22 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


> I wish you'd at least read the Nation I linked to up-thread, since it's a bit more succinct than the other stuff, but know you probably won't do that.

I don't know why you think I didn't read it. I also read (well, skimmed) the kos links. I am assuming you read the ballotpedia link I dropped. It's not that we don't understand each other - we just disagree.
posted by rtha at 11:30 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


agregoli: "This stuff is easy. After 2016, I am done with any wobbling on this issue, and if the Democrats can't hold fast, I'm done with them too."

Maybe this is how we finally get rid of this two party shit system we've got... let's start the Women's Party, run on a women's rights platform, take 50% of the vote from Republicans and Democrats and start fixing shit in this country!

I'm sure this is an entirely original idea and will work just as planned. As such, I'd like a small plaque somewhere when the party is in power as credit for coming up with it. Thanks!
posted by Grither at 11:37 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


let's start the Women's Party

You joke, but if I had fuck you money, that would be my very first official fuck you to the world at large
posted by schadenfrau at 11:44 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


I wish you'd at least read the Nation I linked to up-thread, since it's a bit more succinct than the other stuff, but know you probably won't do that.

I did read it, and the argument that it put forward was "don't you realize that by sponsoring and voting for a bill that restricts the bodily autonomy of women, Mello was actually defending choice by preventing a slightly worse bill from being voted into law." That's the thesis, and it's garbage.

As I said before (and it was the comments by the local activists in that article that inspired that comment,) the strategy of conceding ground on the bodily autonomy of women in order to get a few minor concessions is bad, and just doesn't work. Which is why the national organizations have abandoned that strategy.

As rtha said, it's not that we haven't read the articles, but we just don't agree. Mello is anti-choice, the WSJ article is not a hit piece, and there is no conspiracy to attack Catholic Democratic politicians on choice - and I came to that based on reading up on the matter.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:48 AM on August 3 [10 favorites]


Maybe this is how we finally get rid of this two party shit system we've got... let's start the Women's Party, run on a women's rights platform, take 50% of the vote from Republicans and Democrats and start fixing shit in this country!

Republican women tend to be strongly anti-abortion (for anyone save themselves and their families) so I don't see how this would work. They mostly voted for Trump.
posted by Justinian at 12:06 PM on August 3


No shit, Justinian. Let us dream!
posted by agregoli at 12:10 PM on August 3


White Women in Robes, an article on the myopic whiteness of the Pro-Choice movement, was really, really interesting.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:05 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


ChuraChura, that essay (which I'm not done with yet, and which is already gutting) is an excellent argument for a movement that centers bodily autonomy and access to healthcare. Jesus.
posted by schadenfrau at 2:17 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Democrats disastrous mistake on abortion - Jill Filipovic

Nicely ties up some of the political implications of this fuckery.
posted by OmieWise at 2:29 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


If you see a Democratic politician described as "anti-choice", check the candidate's voting record and NARAL and Planned Parenthood ratings to see if that's actually true.

The only current anti-choice Democratic candidate that I am aware of is Joshua Svaty, running for governor of Kansas. So I checked and it's true.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:15 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


rtha and NoxAeternum, we do disagree. Thanks for responding to my comments the way you did, rather attacking me personally. You've both shown a willingness to engage in a discussion about this really charged issue in good faith, and I really appreciate that.
posted by nangar at 7:43 PM on August 3


First follow up on my letter from above. This morning I got an email from the DCCC, but it wasn't about my complaint, no, it was about funding raising. Here is what it said:
Aren’t you a proud Democrat?

I’m emailing you because I need every Democrat to step up.

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are pledging to undo decades of American progress. They want to:

-Repeal Obamacare
-Defund Planned Parenthood
-Dismantle Social Security and Medicare
-Ban Muslims from entering the US

As a Democrat, I refuse to sit by and let Republicans get away with it. We need to hold them accountable.

And today, I need your help to fight against their outrageous agenda.

TAKE ACTION: Stand with me against the dangerous policies pushed by Donald Trump and his Republicans.

As a member of our team, we’ll keep you updated on the fights ahead for Democrats.

Thanks for standing with us.

Dan

Dan Sena
Executive Director, DCCC
It's another punch in the gut to get this message, playing on my sympathies and civic pride and fear of the regime, while simultaneously citing worries about Defunding Planned Parenthood as reason to donate, even after Represenative Luján's dismissal of reproductive rights as a non-negotiable prerequisite for DCCC funding. It's especially galling since I've never received an email from the DCCC, until after I sent a highly critical email, which they haven't yet answered. Wtf.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 9:47 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Hey, have you heard that the Trump administration is silently shutting down federally funded teen pregnancy prevention programs that were specifically designed to serve low-income communities with high teen pregnancy rates? I mean, to me, that sounds pretty pro-abortion!
"According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, the Trump administration axed $213.6 million from evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs and research nationwide. The federal Office of Adolescent Health recently notified the grantees of the cut.

The federal grant program was created under the first Obama administration, and a second cycle of funding was approved in 2015. Now the concern among program managers is that young people at highest risk will lose resources that in many areas were scarce to begin with.

The abrupt shortening of federal grants is “highly unusual,” said Chitra Panjabi, the president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, which advocates for sex education for both teens and adults.

Panjabi cited the recent appointment of Valerie Huber, a prominent advocate of sexual abstinence for teens, as chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, as a possible factor in the decision.

“It isn’t really surprising to me that she stepped into that role and then very shortly afterwards we’re seeing this rollback,” Panjabi said. “This is someone who does not believe in providing quality sex education for young people.”
“Let’s make sure teenagers get pregnant: a how-to guide to increasing the number of abortions” is the Republican playbook. I wish the Democrats would do even a little bit of work on promoting THAT message, instead of continuing to sell out their constituents based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how anything works.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:17 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


So here's what I ended up typing into the DCCC comment form:
Funding candidates who oppose abortion disrespects the bodily autonomy of any American with a uterus. I can't support Rep. Ben Ray Luján's position, which by extension is the position of the DCCC. Which of his human rights would he be willing to lay on the table? Are women not human now, in the eyes of the party? Exactly where is the line? Is there even a line? How can I support an organization willing to fund people who advocate forcing other people to give birth, who want to take health care away from people? This is so disappointing and disheartening. You want to play fast and loose now with American women's hard-won rights? Really?
When I submitted the form, it immediately whisked me to an ActBlue page that tried to sell me one of their shitty stickers.
posted by salix at 8:29 AM on August 4 [6 favorites]


Jerry Brown specifically addressed this on Meet The Press this week. He, uh, said that the Democratic Party can't be ideologically rigid like "the Marxist Party" in 1910. Thanks, Jerry. That's super helpful. I'm sure everyone will be okay with those comments. They won't make things worse in any way.
posted by Justinian at 11:49 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Video of Brown on MTP. If you thought I was kidding.
posted by Justinian at 11:52 AM on August 6


We need more Democrats born after WWII ended.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


I wonder how many people who said "So what's wrong with the DCCC statement anyway?" also looked at the Google rant on affirmative action and said "Well that's no reason to fire the guy."

And of them, how many are still saying "Hey, I'm totally in favor of women's rights and equality."
posted by happyroach at 5:03 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


I think this Jill Filipovic line from OmieWise's link above really says it all: "But this treads a dangerous path: ceding to demands that the entire political system cater to the perceived values of a group that largely stopped voting for Democrats in the 1960s, when the party pushed the Civil Rights Act and equal rights for women."
posted by en forme de poire at 1:35 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


« Older Mountains of Mordor, Pyroclastic Flows of Valyria   |   Ijeoma Oluo's #Crackerbarrelgate Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.